After data privacy was the focus of both Google and Facebook’s conference keynotes earlier this month, it became clear that for Facebook the future is going to be private, whereas Google CEO Sundar Pichai made it clear that data privacy is for the here and now. Mark Zuckerberg danced around the subject and for them, privacy is a topic of conversation meant to boost confidence in sharing, discourage regulators and repair its image. For Google, on the other hand, privacy is functional, an ever-evolving process that they have been steadily working on for the past decade and have made some great strides in the process.
Within Zuckerberg’s keynote speech he said Messenger and Instagram will become encrypted…with no reference to a launch date…which in any case was announced back in January, and then again in March – what’s changed Facebook? There was also the omission of ‘clear history’ and the ‘data privacy project’ that were the centerpiece of the 2018 conference. What the Facebook founder clung to is the fact that data privacy couldn’t happen overnight. Understandable? Perhaps it would be if this was the first time Facebook had been in trouble. However, Facebook made its first data privacy mistake way back in 2007 (Beacon) when it inadvertently told your off-site e-commerce and web activity to all your friends. 12 years later after a government-shaking Cambridge Analytica scandal, countless faux pas and a few hours of interrogation from US Congress, Facebook has decided to get serious. If the future is private…then the past clearly wasn’t.
On the flipside, Google produced demos showing examples of how they have been adapting to stay ahead of user expectations on privacy. 10 years ago, Google announced Chrome ‘incognito’ mode, and since then it has stopped using Gmail content for ads; launched the capability to use your Android device as a physical security key; and the soon-to-launch auto-delete feature which deletes your web and app activity after 3 or 18 months. When Google makes future promises on privacy, the reports are about things that aren’t about to ship, they’re significant and will be worth the wait.
In summary, Pichai didn’t have to rely on promises of a bright future or joking around for his speech. For Google, privacy is not a PR strategy or something to silence the critics. It’s part of improving the user experience and keeping trust in your products.
All Response Media viewpoint
At All Response Media, we have a GDPR taskforce that ensures we are compliant with the ever-changing and evolving data landscape, ensuring that we do not fall into the same traps as some of the big tech giants. We appreciate that both Google and Facebook are pivotal in executing our media strategies, but equally as important, we understand that we need to be transparent with both our clients and their consumers about the privacy concerns around each platform.